With airfares sky high and rising even more this year, deep discount airlines have become more popular than ever.
Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit are packing their planes with budget travelers, due to their fares that are often half of what the mainline carriers charge, especially to popular vacation spots.
But now the big boys are trying to beat them at their own game with new lower fares. But these new fares come with some big catches.
Watch for hidden fees
So you found a great $250 price on a flight? Don't celebrate: All the new fees can easily add $50 to $100 to that fare, per ticket.
For the past few years, discounters like Allegiant and Frontier have been charging extra for a carry on bag in the overhead bin.
Now for 2017, United, and American are adding those same bag fees for people who purchase a "Basic Economy" ticket .
Add to that low initial fee:
- Checked bags: $25 at most airlines.
- Booking by phone: $15 at most airlines.
- Changing an economy ticket: Now $200 at Delta, United, and American.
- In-flight WiFi: $5 to $10.
Now add the fact that with the new "Basic Economy" fares, you cannot choose your seat at purchase time. You have to wait till check-in, at least 24 hours before your flight, when most good seats will be taken.
Even Delta, which has not added a fee for the overhead bin, still requires budget passengers to wait to get a seat assignment.
Worst new fee: Carry on bag
But from the doesn't that stink file, the most hated of the new fees: That fee for your carry on.
Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit --the 3 deep discounters -- charge between $10 and $75 for use of the overhead bin.
With United and American now adding that fee too with their "Basic Economy" seats,, you may say "doesn't that stink?"
AirfareWatchdog.com says for that reason, the new "Basic Economy" seats may not be your best value, even if those fares are $50 cheaper than their standard coach fares. The extras and inconveniences will really add up..
Bottom line, whether you are flying with a deep discounter, or a mainline carrier now offering super economy seats, know the downsides before you book, so you don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)